adjective se·vere \sə-ˈvir\

: very bad, serious, or unpleasant

: causing a lot of physical pain or suffering

: very harsh


Full Definition of SEVERE

a :  strict in judgment, discipline, or government
b :  of a strict or stern bearing or manner :  austere
:  rigorous in restraint, punishment, or requirement :  stringent
:  strongly critical or condemnatory <a severe critic>
a :  maintaining a scrupulously exacting standard of behavior or self-discipline
b :  establishing exacting standards of accuracy and integrity in intellectual processes <a severe logician>
:  sober or restrained in decoration or manner :  plain <a severe dress>
a :  causing discomfort or hardship :  harsh <severe winters>
b :  very painful or harmful <a severe wound>
:  requiring great effort :  arduous <a severe test>
:  of a great degree <severe depression>
se·vere·ly adverb
se·vere·ness noun
se·ver·i·ty \sə-ˈver-ə-tē\ noun

Examples of SEVERE

  1. The storm caused severe damage to the roof.
  2. The patient is in severe pain.
  3. children with severe learning disabilities
  4. In the most severe cases, the disease can lead to blindness.
  5. He suffered a severe head injury.
  6. He faces severe penalties for his actions.
  7. The war was a severe test of his leadership.
  8. On Feb. 25 regulators laid out details on how they will run the stress tests that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has promised on the biggest banks. Now those tests, designed to judge whether the banks have the capital to keep lending and absorb losses in a severe recession, face an exam of their own. —Jane Sasseen et al., Business Week, 9 Mar. 2009

Origin of SEVERE

Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin severus
First Known Use: 1548

Synonym Discussion of SEVERE

severe, stern, austere, ascetic mean given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint. severe implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness <severe military discipline>. stern stresses inflexibility and inexorability of temper or character <stern arbiters of public morality>. austere stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial <living an austere life in the country>. ascetic implies abstention from pleasure and comfort or self-indulgence as spiritual discipline <the ascetic life of the monks>.
SEVERE Defined for Kids


adjective se·vere \sə-ˈvir\

Definition of SEVERE for Kids

:  serious in feeling or manner <The sheriff gave me a … severe lecture about driving without a license … — Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons>
:  hard to bear or deal with <severe suffering> <a severe test>
:  very strict :  harsh <a severe ruler>
:  not using unnecessary ornament :  plain <a severe style>
se·vere·ly adverb


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